You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

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"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Single by The Righteous Brothers
from the album You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
B-side "There's a Woman"
Released November 1964
Recorded October 1964[1]
Gold Star Studios, Hollywood
Genre Pop, R&B, blue-eyed soul
Length 3:45
Label Philles
Writer(s) Phil Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil[2]
Producer(s) Phil Spector
The Righteous Brothers singles chronology
"My Babe"
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
"Bring Your Love to Me"

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" is a song written by Phil Spector, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil, and first recorded by The Righteous Brothers in 1964. The recording was produced by Spector, and it is considered by some music critics to be the ultimate expression and illustration of Spector's "Wall of Sound" recording technique.[3] It has also been described by various music writers as "one of the best records ever made" and "the ultimate pop record".[1]

The Righteous Brothers' original version was a critical and commercial success on its release, becoming a number-one hit single in both the United States and the United Kingdom in February 1965. It was the fifth best selling song of 1965 in the US. It also entered the Top 10 in the UK chart on an unprecedented three separate occasions.[4] The song has also been covered by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley, Cilla Black, Dionne Warwick, and Hall and Oates.

In December 1999, the performing-rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) ranked the song as the most-played song on American radio and television in the 20th century, having accumulated more than 8 million airplays by 1999,[5] and nearly 15 million by 2011.[6] Additionally, the song was chosen as one of the Songs of the Century by RIAA and ranked No. 34 on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone. In 2015, the single was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[7]

The Righteous Brothers' original[edit]

In 1964, music producer Phil Spector came across The Righteous Brothers in a show in San Francisco and was impressed enough to want them to record for his own label Philles Records.[8] All the songs previously produced by Spector for Philles Records featured black singers, and The Righteous Brothers would become his first white vocal group. However they had a black vocal style, termed blue-eyed soul, that suited Spector.[9]


The Righteous Brothers

Spector commissioned Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to write a song for the group, bringing them over from New York to Los Angeles to stay at the Chateau Marmont Hotel so they could write the song.[1] Taking a cue from "Baby I Need Your Loving" by The Four Tops that was then rising in the charts, Mann and Weil decided to write a ballad.[10] Mann wrote the melody first, and came up with the opening line "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips", influenced by a line from the song "I Love How You Love Me" that was co-written by Mann - "I love how your eyes close whenever you kiss me".[11][12] Mann and Weil wrote the first two verses quickly, including the chorus line "you've lost that lovin' feelin'", and Spector added "gone, gone, gone, whoa, whoa, whoa" to the end of the chorus, which Weil disliked.[12][13] The line "you've lost that lovin' feelin'" was originally only intended to be a dummy line that would be replaced later, but Spector liked it and decided to keep it.[1] The form of the song is of a pop song verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus or ABABCB form.[14] Mann and Weil had problems writing the bridge and the ending, and asked Spector for help. Spector experimented on the piano with a "Hang On Sloopy" riff that they would then use to build on for the bridge.[12]

Weil recalled that, "after Phil, Barry and I finished [writing it], we took it over to The Righteous Brothers. Bill Medley, who has the low voice, seemed to like the song."[15] However, Medley initially felt that the song didn't suit their more up-tempo rhythm and blues style, and Mann and Spector had sung the song in a higher key: "And we just thought, "Wow, what a good song for The Everly Brothers." But it didn't seem right for us."[16][17] The song, which has a very big range, was originally written at a higher key of F. To accommodate Medley's baritone voice, this was gradually lowered, eventually down to C#,[18] which, together with slowing the song down, changed the "whole vibe of the song" according to Medley.[17][19]

Bobby Hatfield reportedly expressed his annoyance to Spector when he learned that Bill Medley would start the first verse alone and he would have to wait until the chorus before joining Medley’s vocals. Previous to this they would have been given equal prominence in a song. When Hatfield asked Spector just what he was supposed to do during Medley’s solo, Spector replied: "You can go directly to the bank!"[15][20]


Phil Spector

The song was recorded at Studio A of Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles.[21] When Hatfield and Medley went to record the vocals a few weeks after the song was written, all the instrumental tracks had already been recorded and overdubbed.[12] They would repeat recording the vocal many times - Medley would sing the opening verse over and over again until Spector was satisfied, then the process would be repeated with the next verse. The recording took over 39 takes, and around eight hours over a period of two days.[1][12]

The song would become one of the foremost examples of Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique. It features the studio musicians the Wrecking Crew, included for this recording were Don Randi on piano, Tommy Tedesco on guitar, Carol Kaye and Ray Pohlman on bass, and Steve Douglas on sax.[22] They were also joined by Barney Kessel on guitar and Earl Palmer on drums for this session. Jack Nitzsche usually arranged the songs but he was absent, and the arrangement for this song was done by Gene Page.[9][23] As with his other songs, Spector started by cutting the instrumental track first, building up layers of sound to create the Wall of Sound effect. The recording was done mono so Spector could fix the sound exactly as he wanted it.[21] According to sound engineer Larry Levine, they started recording four acoustic guitars, when that is ready, they added the pianos, of which there were three, followed by three basses, the horns (two trumpets, two trombones, and three saxophones), then finally the drums.[21] The vocals by Hatfield and Medley were then recorded and the strings overdubbed.[1] The background singers were mainly the vocal group The Blossoms, also joining in the song's crescendo was a young Cher.[24] Reverb was applied in the recording, and more was added on the lead vocals during the mix.[21] According to music writer Robert Palmer, the effect of the technique used was to create a sound that was "deliberately blurry, atmospheric, and of course huge; Wagnerian rock 'n' roll with all the trimmmings."[1]

The slow start of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" with the deep voice of Bill Medley has been described as "one of the most famous openings of any pop song in history",[1] but also misled some early listeners to think that it had been played at the wrong speed

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song started slowly in the recording, with Medley singing in a basso profondo voice.[17] Right before the second verse started Spector also wanted the tempo to stay the same but the beat would also be just a little behind where they are supposed to land to give the impression of the song slowing down.[25] The recorded song was three ticks slower and a tone and a half lower than what Mann and Weil had written.[12] When Mann heard the finished record over the phone, he thought that it have been mistakenly played at 33 1/3 instead of 45 rpm and told Spector, "Phil, you have it on the wrong speed!"[15][18]

Even with his interest in the song, Medley had his doubts because of its length that was then unusually long for a pop song. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he recalled, "We had no idea if it would be a hit. It was too slow, too long, and right in the middle of The Beatles and the British Invasion." The song ran for nearly four minutes when released. This was too long by contemporary AM radio standards, as the radio stations then rarely played songs longer than three minutes because longer songs meant that fewer ads could be placed between song sets.[22] Spector however refused to cut it shorter. Following a suggestion by Larry Levine,[21] Spector had "3:05" printed on the label, instead of the track's actual running time of 3:45. He also added a false ending which made the recording more dramatic, and would also trick radio deejays into thinking it was a shorter song.[15][26]

The production of the single cost Spector around $35,000, then a considerable amount.[27][28] Spector himself was deeply concerned about the reception to a song that was unusual for its time, worrying that his vision would not be understood. He canvassed a few opinions - his publisher Don Kirshner suggested that the song should be re-titled "Bring Back That Lovin' Feelin'", while New York DJ Murray the K thought that bass line in the middle section similar to that of a slowed-down "La Bamba" should be the start of the song. Spector took these as criticisms and later said: "I didn't sleep for a week when that record came out. I was so sick, I got a spastic colon; I had an ulcer."[29]


Andrew Oldham, who was then the manager of The Rolling Stones and a fan and friend of Spector, chanced upon Spector listening to a test pressing of the song that had just been delivered to Spector. Oldham later wrote: "The room was filled with this amazing sound, I had no idea what it was, but it was the most incredible thing I'd ever heard."[30] He added: "I'd never heard a recorded track so emotionally giving or empowering."[31] Later, when Cilla Black recorded a rival version of the same song and it was racing up the charts ahead of The Righteous Brothers' version in Britain, Oldham was appalled, and took it upon himself to run a full-page ad in Melody Maker:

"This advert is not for commercial gain, it is taken as something that must be said about the great new PHIL SPECTOR Record, THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS singing "YOU'VE LOST THAT LOVIN' FEELING". Already in the American Top Ten, this is Spector's greatest production, the last word in Tomorrow's sound Today, exposing the overall mediocrity of the Music Industry.

Andrew Oldham"[32]

In other ads, Oldham also coined a new term to describe the song, the "Phil Spector's Wall of Sound", which Spector would later register as a trademark.[32] Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys heard the song and rang Mann and Weil in January 1965: "Your song is the greatest record ever. I was ready to quit the music business, but this has inspired me to write again."[12]

Assessments by music writers were also highly positive. Nick Logan and Bob Woffinden thought that the song might be "the ultimate pop record ... here [Spector's] genius for production truly bloomed to create a single of epic proportion ..."[1] Richard Williams, who wrote the 1972 biography of Phil Spector Out of His Head, considered the song to be one of the best records ever made, while Charlie Gillett in his 1970 book The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll wrote that "the ebb and flow of passion the record achieved had no direct equivalent."[1][33] Mick Brown, author of a biography of Spector Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, considered the song to be "Spector's defining moment" and his "most Wagnerian production yet - a funeral march to departed love".[29] The opening line was said to be "one of the most familiar opening passages in the history of pop",[34] and Vanity Fair described the song as "the most erotic duet between men on record".[35] However, when it was first presented on the BBC television panel show Juke Box Jury in January 1965 upon its release in the UK, it was voted a miss by all four panelists, with one questioning if it was played at the right speed.[36]

There were initially reservations about the song from the radio industry; a common complaint was that it was too long, and others also questioned the speed of the song, and thought that the singer "keeps yelling".[37] Some stations refused to play the song after checking the song's length, or after it caused them to miss the news.[26] The radio industry trade publication Gavin Report offered the opinion that "blue-eyed soul has gone too far".[37] In Britain, Sam Costa, a DJ on the BBC Light Programme, said that The Righteous Brothers' record was a dirge, adding, "I wouldn't even play it in my toilet."[38] However, despite the initial reservations, the song would became a highly popular song on radio.[39]

Spector himself would later rate the song as the pinnacle of his achievement at Philles Records.[40]

Commercial performance[edit]

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" made its debut in the charts on December 12, 1964. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 on February 6, 1965 and remained at No. 1 for a further week (February 13). Due to its length, it became at that time the longest ever song to top the chart.[41] In addition, the song crossed over to the R&B charts, peaking at number two.[42] Billboard ranked the record as the number 5 song of 1965.[43]

The song was released in January 1965 in the UK. It debuted at No. 35 on the UK Top 40 chart, for the chart week of January 20, 1965. It reached No. 1 in its fourth week (February 10) and remained there the following week.[44] It would become the only single to ever enter the UK Top 10 three times, having been successfully re-releases in 1969 (No. 10), and again in 1990 (No. 3) as a follow-up to the re-release of "Unchained Melody", which had hit No. 1 after being featured in the film Ghost. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" also reached No. 42 after a 1977 re-release and in 1988 reached No. 87.[44]

In Ireland, it charted twice, first in February 1965, when it peaked at No. 2,[45] and second in December 1990, following its reissue, when it peaked at No. 2 again.[46] In the Netherlands "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" reached No. 8 in March 1965 with three versions ranked together as one entry: the versions by the Righteous Brothers and Cilla Black plus a local cover by Trea Dobbs (NL).[47]

Chart positions[edit]

Cilla Black's version[edit]

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Single by Cilla Black
B-side "Is It Love"
Genre Pop, R&B, blue-eyed soul
Length 3:09
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) Phil Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
Producer(s) George Martin
Cilla Black singles chronology
"It's for You"
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
"I've Been Wrong Before"

Cilla Black first became a recording star by quickly covering Dionne Warwick's newly released American hit "Anyone Who Had a Heart" for the UK market, which gave her a No. 1 song in the UK chart in February 1964, out-performing Dionne Warwick's original version on the chart. Black's producer George Martin repeated this strategy with Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" that had just been released in the US. Black's version is shorter with an abbreviated bridge, which she explained by saying: "I don't want people to get bored".[56] The abridgement also removed the necessity of Black's attempting to match the Righteous Brothers' climactic vocal trade-off.

Black would later remake "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" for her 1985 Surprisingly Cilla album.

Chart rivalry[edit]

Both Cilla Black's and Righteous Brothers versions of the song debuted on the UK chart in the same week in January 1965, with Black debuting higher at No. 28.[57] According to Tony Hall of Decca Records who was responsible for promoting The Righteous Brothers' record in the UK, Black's version was preferred by BBC radio where one of its DJs disparaged the Righteous Brothers' version as a "dirge" and refused to play it. Hall therefore requested that Spector send The Righteous Brothers over to Britain to promote the song so it may have a chance on the chart.[38][40] The following week Black remained in ascendancy at No. 12 with the Righteous Brothers at No. 20. The Righteous Brothers then spent a week promoting the song, and performed for television shows in Manchester and Birmingham.[38] At the same time, Andrew Oldham placed the full-page ad on Melody Maker promoting The Righteous Brothers' version at his own initiative and expense, and urged the readers to watch the Righteous Brothers' appearance on the ITV television show Ready Steady Go!.[40] In its third week on the 3 February chart, Black jumped to No. 2, while the Righteous Brothers made an even larger jump to No. 3. Hall recalled meeting at a party Brian Epstein, the manager of Black, who said that Black's version would be No. 1 and told Hall, "You haven't a hope in hell."[40]

However, in its fourth week, Black's version began its descent dropping to No. 5, while the Righteous Brothers climbed to No. 1.[57] Cilla Black then reportedly cabled her congratulations to the Righteous Brothers on their No. 1.[40] Black's version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" would prove to be her highest charting UK single apart from her two No. 1's: "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You're My World". It also reached No. 2 in Australia - where The Righteous Brothers' version was also a hit at No. 5.

Dionne Warwick's version[edit]

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"
Single by Dionne Warwick
from the album Soulful
B-side "Window Wishing"
Genre Pop, R&B
Length 3:02
Label Scepter Records
Writer(s) Phil Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
Producer(s) Chips Moman, Dionne Warwick
Dionne Warwick singles chronology
"Odds and Ends"
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling'"
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again"

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" was the only single released off Soulful, a 1969 release aimed to showcase Dionne Warwick as more of an R&B singer than was evidenced by her work with Burt Bacharach. Co-produced by Warwick and Chips Moman and recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, Soulful was one of Warwick's most successful albums with a No. 11 peak and the single "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 13 on the R&B chart.[58] In Australia the Go-Set Top 40 chart ranked Warwick's version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" with a No. 34 peak in January 1970.[59] In Warwick's version, she spells the last word of the title out fully as "feeling" rather than the usual "feelin'".

Hall & Oates' version[edit]

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
Single by Hall & Oates
from the album Voices
B-side "United State" (UK)
"Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices)" (US, Canada and Germany)
Released September 27, 1980
Format 7"
Recorded 1979
Genre Blue-eyed soul, soft rock
Length 4:10
Label RCA
Producer(s) Daryl Hall & John Oates
Hall & Oates singles chronology
"How Does It Feel to Be Back"
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
"Kiss on My List"

The 1980 Hall & Oates Voices album featured a remake of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" with a spare arrangement contrasting with the lavish Righteous Brothers version; the second non-original song Hall & Oates had ever recorded, the track was issued as the album's second single after the original "How Does It Feel to Be Back" peaked at No. 30. The November peak of No. 12 made "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" the first Hall & Oates single to ascend higher than No. 20 since the No. 1 hit "Rich Girl" in the spring of 1977.[60][61]

Miscellaneous versions[edit]

Charting versions[edit]

Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway's self-titled 1972 album featured a version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" which was released as the second single after the Top 30 version of "You've Got a Friend". The Flack/Hathaway take on "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" reached No. 30 R&B with a Billboard Hot 100 peak of No. 71 (Cash Box Top 100 Singles peak was No. 57; Record World 100 Pop Chart rank peak was No. 53).[62]

In 1979 Long John Baldry remade the song as "You've Lost That Loving Feeling'" on Baldry's Out, the Jimmy Horowitz-produced disc which was Baldry's first recording in his newly adopted homeland of Canada. This version is performed as a duet with Kathi McDonald,[63] who in singing the latter half of the first and second verse inverts the usual order. Released as a single, the Canadian chart success (No. 45) of Baldry's "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" spilled over into the US charts at No. 89. The track also reach No. 2 in Australia in 1980. Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers told Baldry that he liked the their remake of the song better than his own.[64] Baldry had first recorded the song - as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" - for his 1966 album Looking at Long John. The Baldry/McDonald duet version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" also reached No. 37 in New Zealand.

In 1986 a remake of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by Grant & Forsyth (formerly of Guys 'n' Dolls) reached No. 48 in the Netherlands,[65] where the song was a No. 57 chart item in 2002 for André Hazes & Johnny Logan.[66]

Günther Neefs reached No. 31 on the Belgian charts (Flemish region) with his 1996 recording "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling".[67] "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" charted C&W at No. 41 for Barbara Fairchild in 1975 while in 1988 Carroll Baker took the song to No. 8 on the C&W chart in Canada.

Other versions[edit]

Various recordings[edit]



The song is highly popular on the radio; according to the performing-rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), it became the most-played song of all time on American radio in 1997 with over 7 million airplays, overtaking the Beatles' "Yesterday".[39] At the end of 1999, the song was ranked by the BMI as the most-played song of the 20th century, having been broadcast more than 8 million times (all versions) on American radio and television,[5] and it remains the most-played song, having accumulated almost 15 million airplays in the US by 2011.[6] The song also received 11 BMI Pop Awards by 1997, the most for any song,[73] and has received 14 in total so far.[74]

The popularity of the song also means that it is one of the highest grossing songs for its copyright holders. It was estimated by the BBC programme The Richest Songs in the World in 2012 to be the third biggest earner of royalties of all songs, behind "White Christmas" and "Happy Birthday to You".[75][76][77]


In 1965, The Righteous Brothers' recording of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" was nominated in the Best Rock and Roll Recording category at the 7th Annual Grammy Awards.[78] It was also awarded Best Pop Single To Date 1965 in the Billboard Disc Jockey Poll.[79]

In 2001, The Righteous Brothers' recording of the song was ranked at No. 9 in the list of Songs of the Century released by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.[80] In 2004, the same recording was ranked at No. 34 by Rolling Stone magazine in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[81]

In 2005, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" was awarded the Songwriters Hall of Fame's Towering Song Award presented to "the creators of an individual song that has influenced the culture in a unique way over many years".[82]

In 2015, the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, which each year selects from 130 years of sound recordings for special recognition and preservation, chose The Righteous Brothers recording of the song as one of the 25 recordings that has "cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy".[7][83]


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External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Downtown" by Petula Clark
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (The Righteous Brothers version)
February 6, 1965 (two Weeks)
Succeeded by
"This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis & the Playboys
Preceded by
"Go Now" by The Moody Blues
UK number-one single (The Righteous Brothers version)
February 4, 1965 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Tired of Waiting for You" by The Kinks